Christian Eriksen: Emotional Daley Blind considered not playing for Netherlands after friend’s collapse

·3 min read
Daley Blind was in tears after being substituted playing for the Netherlands against Ukraine (Getty Images)
Daley Blind was in tears after being substituted playing for the Netherlands against Ukraine (Getty Images)

Daley Blind said he considered not playing for the Netherlands in their Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine on Sunday night following Christian Eriksen’s medical emergency.

Eriksen is talking and in a stable condition in hospital in Copenhagen after collapsing while playing for Denmark in their Group B match against Finland at Parken Stadium on Saturday.

Danish team doctor Morten Boesen revealed in an update earlier on Sunday that the Inter Milan midfielder had suffered a cardiac arrest during the game and “was gone” before being quickly resuscitated on the pitch after one defibrillation.

Blind is a close friend and former team-mate of Eriksen, with the duo having played together at Ajax.

As well as the friendship between the two players, Eriksen’s situation is particularly poignant for Blind, who has experienced heart issues himself over recent years.

The experienced Ajax defender was diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation after complaining of dizziness during a Champions League match against Valencia in December 2019.

Blind, who was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker, then collapsed while playing for Ajax in a pre-season friendly against Hertha Berlin in August 2020.

The 31-year-old did end up starting for the Netherlands in their thrilling 3-2 Group C win over Ukraine on Sunday night and was in tears after being substituted in the second half as the emotion of the weekend understandably took its toll.

"Yesterday had a huge impact on me, never mind the fact that I know Christian well as a friend,” he told reporters after the match at Johan Cruyff Arena.

“The situation for him is terrible. Of course, I have also experienced a few things in that area, so that I had to overcome a mental hurdle to play today.

"I had to persuade myself to play but I’m proud that I did and that’s why my emotion came bursting out at the end of the game.

"I definitely thought about not taking part. The images on television and the incident had a big impact and I didn't sleep very well because of them. I really had to overcome a big hurdle to do this.”

He added: "If it didn't go well, it would have haunted my head even more. When Christian encouraged his own [Denmark] team-mates to play [finish the match against Finland] is when I decided to play myself. Also because I'm safe, according to the doctors.”

Dutch boss Frank de Boer also spoke of the emotion in the Netherlands camp after the distressing situation with Eriksen, who spent five years at Ajax and won three Eredivisie titles between 2010-13 before leaving for Tottenham.

“I saw those images and I had to leave the room. I had five years with Christian,” former Ajax coach De Boer said.

“It was a roller-coaster last night. We had a meeting but we rescheduled it for the morning as we didn’t want to talk about football.

“Daley was quite emotional. He had some problems with his own heart and one of his best friends is Christian Eriksen so it is normal there are a lot of emotions going through us, him especially.”

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